Thursday, March 22, 2018

Taps & Traps

Those who know me will recognize my appreciation for the art form of tap dancing and of its important relationship to the practice of Jazz drumming. Playing with tap dancers is one of my favourite things to do! I'm always amazed at their seamless sense of rhythmic phrasing, syncopation and movement.

My first introduction to tap was from listening to the seminal Jo Jones album "The Drums" in which Papa Jo imitates the sounds of his favourite tap dancers. Recently I've been digging what little I've seen of Savion Glover's collaborations with Marcus Gilmore and Jack DeJohnette.

I recently worked with a number of world class tap dancers (including Heather Cornell and Travis Knights) as part of the annual Rhythm, Body and Soul Festival produced by Tasha Lawson and the Tri-Tone Rhythm Society, in my hometown of Calgary, AB.

In corresponding with Heather Cornell afterwards, she praised the work of percussionist Jesse Stewart with whom she presented a tap and drums duo performance, as part of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival (see Tim Mah's earlier guest blog post for a full report). This is an ongoing project so look for these two master artists on a stage near you.

And fortunately for us, here's a couple clips of this recent collaboration between tap master Cornell and percussionist Stewart:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Handpan Sand Dance from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Music for wooden box and wooden mocks from Hazi on Vimeo.

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart • Water wood from Hazi on Vimeo.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Not sure about you or wherever you are, but around here Winter has been dragging its heels for some time now. Enough of Winter. Please bring on Spring.

Anyways, enough with the depressing weather reports and here's what's been making the rounds over here in the Four on the Floor news room lately. Upwards and Onwards!

- Lewis Porter on Gene Krupa's legacy via WBGO:

- Thanks to Adam Nussbaum who passed along this gem of a resource, Gene Perla's personal loft recordings which feature a who's who of important Jazz artists he's collaborated with:

- Portland's Alan Jones interviewed via Coffeehouse Conversations:

- Art Blakey offers some sage advice to Ben Sidran courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Centre:

- Brett Primack's tribute to Roy Haynes, the hippest man in the known universe, who recently turned 93 years young last week:

- John Riley interviewed at Drummer Nation:

- A short solo statement from Jack DeJohnette from an outdoor performance at Woodstock taken a few years ago:

- What's better than a band with a swinging drummer? A band with TWO swinging drummers! Here's pianist Emmet Cohen's trio featuring Evan Sherman and Joe Saylor:

- Just a beautiful ballad featuring New York's Tyler Blanton on vibes with some tasteful brushwork from Johnathan Blake from a recent hit at New York's Mezzrow Jazz club:

- I've really been digging this trio out of Chicago lately: bassist Clark Sommer's Ba(SH) Trio featuring Geof Bradfield on tenor saxophone and powerhouse Dana Hall on drums:

- Montreal's Jazz drumming icon Dave Laing explores Herbie Hancock's piano solo on "Eye of the Hurricane", orchestrating it around the drums:

- One more from Portland's Alan Jones, one of my favourite drummers these days:

- What am I listening to these days?

Jodi Proznick "Sun Songs" - Jesse Cahill (drums)

Adam Nussbaum "The Leadbelly Project" - Adam Nussbaum (drums)

Various "Drums of Death: Field Recordings in Ghana" - Ashanti/Ewe Tribes of Ghana (drums/percussion)

David Braid Sextet "Zhen: David Braid Sextet Live, Vol. 2" - Terry Clarke (drums)

Bud Powell Trio "A Portrait of Thelonious" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

- And today's Last Word goes to Adam Nussbaum (special thanks to Roger Johansen who posted this one on FB):

"The drum thing is different than guitar players or trumpet players. There’s a more competitive thing going on there with those instruments. But with drummers, it’s more of a brotherhood. And at the end of the day, we know that the quickest way to change the sound of the band is to change the drummer. We can make a band, we can break a band. And there’s a certain camaraderie. We all get together and it’s a good feeling, it’s a beautiful scene, man. You know, we’re all just trying to get that groove together...make the band feel good, make everybody happy. That’s why we’re going to work. It ain’t about us sounding good, it’s about helping the band sound good."

- Adam Nussbaum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Orleans Drumming

This rare resource recently popped up on the Tube, featuring Baby Dodds and a host of other drummers from the Crescent City I've never even heard of...(although apparently this obscure footage has been available on VHS for some time?)

Anyways, check this out and then get to work on your press rolls!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Second Triplet

About five years ago I had the opportunity to work with saxophonist Ralph Bowen and play a concert of his music arranged for big band. It was a wonderful experience and I also took advantage of the opportunity to take a lesson with him during his time in Calgary. Ralph is a serious musician with huge ears and he KNOWS drummers and drumming when he hears them so I was very interested in his perspective on my own playing. We spent the better part of an afternoon playing saxophone and drum duets.

One idea that he suggested that I explore more closely was a phrasing concept, the idea of emphasizing more of the 2nd triplet of each beat in my comping patterns, when playing a slow to medium tempo swing groove.

Something like this:

Of course, to my ears anyways, this immediately suggests the drumming of Elvin Jones who was famous for his triplet-laced comping style and his own unique emphasis of the 2nd triplet within his own timekeeping phrases.

So I came up with a few exercises to further develop this concept:

1) Mess around with the orchestration of every 2nd triplet of each beat of the bar, playing it on the snare drum, tom tom, floor tom, bass drum and hi-hat, mixing it up in different combinations, all while keeping Time on the ride cymbal. Once you are comfortable with this and can get a nice flow happening, start to leave the occasional note out. Think compositionally and get comfortable with the placement and feeling of that 2nd "inner" triplet.

Here's a couple more fun exercises to further explore this concept:

2) Play the Jazz ride cymbal rhythm (right hand) with the 2nd triplet as a constant rhythmic ostinato on the snare drum (left hand).

Then using Stick Control, add a constant eighth-note shuffle between your feet, orchestrating it as follows:

R= bass drum

L= hi-hat

You'll find that you will create a constant stream of triplets underneath your ride cymbal but the feet will never line up with the 2nd triplet on the snare drum. Clever eh?

3) Same idea as above except use Page 37 etc. from Syncopation and orchestrate the rhythms between your feet while your right hand plays the Jazz ride cymbal beat and your left hand plays the 2nd triplet of each beat as an ostinato on the snare drum.

a) bass drum = long notes

    hi-hat = short notes

b) Reverse*

c) bass drum = Any rhythm that lines up on beats 1 and 3 (including the +'s)

    hi-hat = Any rhythm that lines up beats 2 and 4 (including the +'s)

d) Reverse*

Take it slow and remember: Keep it Swinging!

*Perhaps try playing the hi-hat as an open "splash" sound when interpreting it as a "long" rhythm...

Monday, March 5, 2018

Conor's Corner: Advanced Triplet Subdivision Rhythm Exercise

Today marks the first of what will hopefully be a regular, on-going series of guest blog posts from my friend and great Irish Jazz drummer Conor Guilfoyle. He's been posting lessons on for quite some time now and I've always admired not only his wonderful information but also his excellent delivery and concise explanations as well.

Today Conor offers us an excellent explanation on how to use odd-grouping subdivisions over a triplet subdivision:

And here's the written companion to this piece:

To learn more about Conor's activities check out his website (there are also many more great lessons to check out here) and this interview from

Thanks again Conor and see you next time!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Kris Davis & Marcus Gilmore

Further to Monday's post, here's more footage from Kris Davis' album "Duopoly", this time featuring pianist Kris Davis with drummer Marcus Gilmore:

The world needs more music like this!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kris Davis & Billy Drummond

One of my favourite recent albums of the past couple of years is pianist Kris Davis' "Duopoly". This album features improvised duets between Davis and various improvisors. One such pairing finds pianist Kris Davis with drummer Billy Drummond on two tracks (the other piano/drums duets on the album features Marcus Gilmore). One selection features improvisations on the theme to "Eronel" and the other, a completely improvised duet statement.

Here's a Modern Drummer article about this unique collaboration:

And, fortunately for us, here is video footage of both tracks from the album:

I've always been a HUGE fan of Drummond's drumming and have known Kris since she was barely out of high school (!) During the summer of 1997 we played together in a piano trio at the Banff Centre for the Arts with bassist Solon McDade, participating in the summer Jazz workshop. Definitely a highlight for me and I hope to play with her again in the future. I look forward to hearing more creative projects and collaborations from Davis in the years to come.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tim Mah's Ottawa Winter Jazz Fest Review

Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah recently attended the 2018 edition of the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival and here's his full report and impressions of this successful Canadian Jazz festival:

Recap of the 2018 Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival - Tim Mah 


When: February 8 to 10, 2018

Where: downtown Ottawa at La Nouvelle Scene (12 concerts on two different stages, and two late night jams) and the Mercury Lounge (one concert).

Seating: all performances were general admission.

Run time: most performances had an hour run time, with some running longer. The concerts were scheduled with minimal overlap.

Thursday, February 8


Personnel: Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, synthesizer), Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), Guido Del Fabbro (violin synthesizer), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, melodica), Martin Tetrault (turntable)

The festival opened with Montreal chamber jazz group, Quartetski, performing music from their 2016 album called “Mikrokosmos: Quartetski Does Bartók”, featuring the band’s adaptation of progressive exercises and études by the great Béla Bartók.

Dock In Absolute

Personnel: Jean-Philippe Koch (piano), David Kintziger (bass), Michel Mootz (drums)

Dock In Absolute, a jazz trio from Luxembourg, performed music from their 2017 self-titled album. The trio has toured across Europe and Asia. Ottawa was their only Canadian stop on their current tour.

This is a video of “Submission” from the self-titled album of Dock In Absolute:

Barbra Lica

Personnel: Barbra Lica (voice), Marc Rogers (bass), Will Fisher (drums), Tom Fleming (guitar), Joel Visentin (piano, keys, accordion)

Performing songs from her album “I’m Still Learning” and new songs, Barbra Lica and her band sounded cohesive and polished. Barbra Lica quickly builds a rapport with her audience through her charm, wit and stories.

The EPK for the 2017 album “I’m Still Learning”:

Paolo Angeli

Personnel: Paolo Angeli (guitar, voice)

Touring North America in support of his 2017 album “Talea,” Paolo Angeli mesmerized the audience with his performance, featuring his customized Sardinian guitar. Here’s a video of his National Public Radio Tiny Desk Concert:

Friday, Feburary 9

Hilario Duran & the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band

Hilario Duran (piano), supported by the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band, delighted the audience, performing music from his repertoire, including “Parque 527” from his 2018 Juno award nominated album “Contumbao” and jazz standards (“Manteca”, “A Night in Tunisia”).

The EPK for Hilario Duran’s album “Contumbao”, released in 2017:

Emma Frank

Personnel: Emma Frank (voice), Jim Black (drums), Martin Heslop (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano), Simon Millerd (trumpet)

Emma Frank’s concert included songs from her new album, “Ocean Av” (released on February 16, 2018). Her songs are beautiful and feature intelligent lyrics.

The musicians on her new album include Emma Frank (vocals), Aaron Parks (piano), Jim Black (drums), Rick Rosato (bass) and Franky Rousseau (guitar).

The following is the video for “Ocean Av”:

Chet Doxas

Personnel: Chet Doxas (saxophone, electronics), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Rob Ritchie (guitar, synths), Zack Lober (bass, turntables), and Eric Doob (drums, electronics).

Chet Doxas and his band faithfully reproduced the music and energy from his 2018 Juno award nominated album, “Rich in Symbols” (inspired by the “No Wave” art movement of New York City’s Lower East Side between the years 1975-85). As the band performed each song, the corresponding piece of art was projected behind the band. The concert program with the corresponding pictures of the artwork can be found on Chet Doxas’ website:

Below is the video for “Starcrossings” from the album:

Jim Black Trio 

Personnel: Jim Black (drums), Thomas Morgan (bass), Elias Stemeseder (piano)

The Jim Black Trio’s concert featured music from their 2016 album “The Constant”. A review of the album from NPR’s Fresh Air can be found here:

Saturday, February 10

Fred Hersch

Personnel: Fred Hersch (piano)

Twelve time Grammy nominated pianist and composer, Fred Hersch, performed a solo piano concert, in support of his 2017 album “Open Book.” He didn’t disappoint the sold out audience.

Fred Hersch “Plainsong” from the album “Open Book”:

Taps and Traps: Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart

Personnel: Heather Cornell (dance – sand, wood, tap), Jesse Stewart (drums, percussion)

This concert featuring Heather Cornell and Jesse Stewart was fascinating; as Heather Cornell demonstrated her tap dance mastery and Jesse Stewart played some of his unique instruments (including triple flute, waterphone, handpan).

The performance was at Studio B in La Nouvelle Scene, which is a black box theatre with a flat floor. The first row was the best place to view Heather Cornell’s footwork. The rest of the audience would not have been able to see and hear the performance as well as those in the first row.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Joe Lovano Trio featuring Idris Muhammad

Just some great trio footage today featuring the late Idris Muhammad with Joe Lovano circa. 2000:

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back and this is officially the very first Monday Morning Paradiddle column of 2018! Here's a vast assortment of random items to check out:

- Adam Nussbaum has new album out! (more on this one later...) Check out this feature from Downbeat Magazine on what promises to be a unique and interesting collection of music:

- Rudy Royston interviewed by Dave Douglas over at Greenleaf Music:

- A podcast interview with Joe Farnsworth from The Bird's Basement:

- DrumGab offers interviews with Mark Kelso:

...and Eric Harland:

- Todd Bishop from Cruiseship Drummer with a wonderful column on the legacy of Paul Motian:

- Ethan Iverson pens a wonderful piece on the not-talked-about-nearly-often-enough Donald Bailey:

- No drums (!) but Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle offers his favourite bass solos:

- From Drummer Nation, an interview with Michael Carvin:

- A sneak peek of an upcoming trio album featuring Brian Blade, Jeff Coffin and Chris Donahue:

- Marcus Gilmore goes for it with Chick Corea:

- What am I listening to these days?

Geof Bradfield "Birdsongs" - Dana Hall (drums)

Clark Sommers Trio "BaSH" - Dana Hall (drums)

Barry Elmes "Dog's Breakfast" - Barry Elmes (drums)

Phil Stewart "Melodious Drums" - Phil Stewart (drums)

Rodney Jordan "Playing Jazz, Volume 1" - Jason Marsalis (drums)

David Friesen "Four to Go" - Alan Jones (drums)

Nat Adderley "In the Bag" - James Black (drums)

Bud Powell "Off Minor" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to Joseph Campbell with some sage advice for all those who are looking to get some practicing done:

"You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen." 

- Joseph Campbell

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bob Gullotti: Chasin' the Bird

Not at that long ago (in the last ten years anyways...), Bob Gullotti was a big help towards my own doctoral research through the University of Toronto (much more than he likely realizes!)
In examining the notion of Melodic Jazz Drumming (found here: I recalled an obscure article from a long out-of-print Jazz education magazine that I first discovered in the McGill University Library in which Gullotti described using the solo phrases from the Charlie Parker Omnibook to develop solo vocabulary on the drum set. This intrigued me then (late 90s?) and this idea not only left an impression on me as a Jazz drummer but also prompted me to reach out and interview Gullotti on this specific topic several years later.

We never met in person however we did speak at length over the phone and his description and explanation of his use of Bird's "melodies" and how to orchestrate them around the drums was a big help in my research. In fact, I somehow think of this and all the possibilities of Melodic Drumming in some way or another every time that I sit down to play and teach at the drums.

So here's an example of Gullotti demonstrating this very concept, on the Charlie Parker tune Chi Chi:

As you can see and hear, Bird's melodic ideas lend themselves very well to orchestration around the drum set.

Bob is also a founding member of the long standing Boston trio The Fringe with tenor saxophonist George Garzone and bassist John Lockwood. Be sure to check these guys out if you ever find yourself in Boston.

Here's a 2012 article from NPR on the legacy of this very important trio:

And if you are interested in learning more about Bob's drumming teaching concepts, I would highly recommend checking out this new instructional lesson from My Music

Thanks for all your help Bob!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Max + Dizzy: Paris 1989

A bit of a visit down memory lane for me's some amazing footage of Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie from their 1989 duo concert in Paris, France.

I first bought this album 25 years ago (!) while on a high school band trip to Moscow, Idaho, attending the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Up until that moment I had only started to check out Max, mostly his work with Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins. So, for a number of reasons, this album really knocked me out...

First of all, I was amazed that so much music could be made from just two musicians on stage together. Entertaining the possibility of improvised duets with other musicians now offered me a world of possibility and the sky was now the limit. I had no idea that you could do that as a drummer! Soon after I would discover the Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell ECM record "El Corazon" (thanks to the Regina Public Library) and the rest, as they say, is history...

But in retrospect what really impressed me (and still does) is how personal Roach delivers his vocabulary and rhythmic ideas on the drums. He really OWNS every phrase that he plays. Of course, this only comes from a lifetime of playing and developing ones ideas time after time again. Not only did Roach invent a new language of Jazz drumming that set the bar very high and inspired countless others, but he perfected it in a highly personal way over the course of his entire career. By the time of this recording I don't think Roach was really searching for new things to play on the drums (I could be wrong...) but instead he focused on refining and delivering his time-tested ideas in very clever ways, arranged in very clear and musical statements.

Fortunately for us/me, the video footage of the concert exists:

And here's the full audio/CD version of the concert:

*Be sure to check out the audio up until the very end as there is an extensive interview with both Roach and Gillespie.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Joe Morello: The Famous Cymbal

A nice little documentary today (with some big names weighing in) on the legacy of Joe Morello:

Furthermore, here' an older feature and interview with Joe from Jazz Profiles:

And finally, from Scott K. Fish, here's part of a Morello drum clinic from the 70s (looking forward to hearing Part 2!):

Monday, January 22, 2018

Alvin Fielder & Steve Coleman: Charlie Parker Tribute (in the raw)

And....we're back. Thanks to Chad Anderson who hipped me to this wonderful audio recording of the great Alvin Fielder with Steve Coleman and Graham Haynes, playing on some classic Charlie Parker music:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Roy Haynes: A Life in Time

I'm taking a break for the next while so in the meantime here's a nice documentary on coolest and hippest man alive....Roy! Haynes!

And, in case you missed it....a very spirited drum solo (complete with a tap interlude!) from the 2012 Chicago Jazz Festival:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Max Roach 1993

Twenty five years ago today (January 1993), I met Max Roach at the IAJE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I was only 15 years old at the time but I had already started listening to Max through his collaborations with Clifford Brown ("Study in Brown") and Sonny Rollins ("Saxophone Colossus"). I was hooked from the very first notes but after meeting Mr. Roach, shaking his hand and him graciously offering me an autograph I can safely say that my fate was sealed that morning!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cymbal Sounds of The Masters: The Legends

Thanks to the kind people over at the Zildjian Cymbal Company, here's a brilliant piece of cymbal history to check out:

Let's hope that we see more of these, please!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Drum & Bass: Art Blakey and Paul Chambers

Just a little something to leave you with before the weekend starts...

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy 2018 with Joey Baron

Happy New Year's! And what better way to ring in 2018 than with some inspiring solo drumming from Joey Baron:

While Baron is certainly a masterful, imaginative and inventive soloist by himself, here's also a nice reminder of his impeccable skills as an accompanist, featured here with Mark Turner on tenor saxophone and Jorge Rossy on vibraphone (!) on a composition entitled "Aloysius" (dedicated to Al Foster perhaps?):